Should pharmacists be allowed to prescribe oral contraceptives?

May 5, 2015

At least one Oregon state legislator believes allowing pharmacists to prescribe oral contraceptives would increase access to birth control and reduce unwanted pregnancies.

At least one Oregon state legislator believes allowing pharmacists to prescribe oral contraceptives would increase access to birth control and reduce unwanted pregnancies.

Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) has proposed authorizing pharmacists in Oregon to prescribe oral contraceptives for preventive purposes and not just for emergencies. Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, believes that it does not make sense that pharmacists can prescribe emergency contraceptives but not preventive.

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"It just seemed unreasonable that they can't dispense preventive contraception," Buehler told the Oregonian. "There's an inconsistency there."

Buehler’s proposal is an amendment to a separate bill that would authorize Oregon pharmacists to provide patient-care services and to engage in clinical pharmacy. It is unclear whether that legislation will be considered this year.

His proposal would authorize Oregon pharmacists to prescribe oral contraceptives to patients 18 and older. Pharmacists would be required to distribute a self-screening risk assessment tool before writing a prescription.

 

Back in 2012, a panel of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended on-demand prescriptions for oral contraceptives as a way of reducing unplanned pregnancies.

Buehler’s proposal would allow pharmacists who object to prescribing birth control for ethical, moral, or religious reasons to refuse to do so.

Already, Buehler’s proposal has gained much support. An editorial in the Oregonian called it a common-sense measure. “Government shouldn't place unnecessary barriers between informed adults and the products and services they seek, and such a barrier appears to exist here,” the editorial stated. “Eliminating it should be a no-brainer, whether lawmakers do so this session or next.”